A court ruling will allow Aer Lingus to increase reserves that can be distributed to shareholders, the airline said today.

The ruling in the High Court means the trustees of an employee pension scheme that is in deficit will not be able to limit the distribution of funds to shareholders, Aer Lingus said.

The airline said it could increase its distributable reserves to €542m from the current €42m, boosting the pot from which it could pay future dividends.

In a statement, Aer Lingus said it welcomed today's court ruling.

The company's shares closed 9.8% higher on Dublin's ISEQ at €1.40 following the announcement.

''Today’s final step in the confirmation process is in the best interests of shareholders as it enables the company to have greater flexibility to consider a return of capital or the redemption or repurchase of shares, in excess of the limits previously imposed by the Company’s balance sheet,'' the airline said.

Last month, Aer Lingus said that it intended to pay a dividend of about €21.4m, representing €0.04 per share for 2012, in May. This payout is subject to shareholder approval at its AGM in April.

''Our current dividend policy, which we announced in May 2012 is to pay a dividend for those future years in which we make a profit, provided that payment of such dividend is appropriate and prudent in the context of our financial position, strategic objectives and prospects,'' the airline said in a statement today.